As the Braves rode their trio of Mike Soroka, Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuña Jr. — the three youngest players in the majors — to victory Tuesday night at Citi Field, the Mets’ youngster, shortstop Amed Rosario, did his part, too.
Rosario, the eighth-youngest player in the majors, went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, including a ninth-inning, three-pitch effort with no outs and the potential tying run on base.
The Mets had the bunt sign on, but when the infielders came crashing in, Rosario twice pulled back and swung — an in-the-moment decision manager Mickey Callaway said he supported. He fouled off the first pitch, missed the second.
“It was hard to bunt,” Rosario, who is hitting .226, said through an interpreter. “Pitches were coming inside. So it was the best I could do.”
Rosario has been in a bit of a slide the past week-plus — 4-for-24 with four strikeouts and one walk in his past seven games — bringing his OPS down from .664 to .579. That ranks 160th out of 176 qualified major-league hitters.
Callaway said he hasn’t seen anything different from Rosario in those games.
“Tonight he had a couple of chases and things like that,” Callaway said. “But it’s a long season. Overall he’s done a pretty good job of things he worked on in spring training. He’s just got to keep on taking that approach and good things will happen.”
The Mets did not have particularly high expectations for Rosario heading into his age-22 season.
“We hope he can maintain his status as an everyday player,” general manager Sandy Alderson said on Opening Day.
If Rosario can make good on his defensive abilities — he is very fast and highly regarded at shortstop — it likely will take only minimal offensive contributions for him to validate his presence as the everyday shortstop.
Through a month-plus, that’s what he has given them. Despite showing flashes of the potent bat he had in the minors, Rosario began his week having swung and missed at 13.7 percent of the pitches he saw — the worst mark on the Mets and better than only two dozen major-leaguers (out of 176).
Rosario also averaged only 3.44 pitches per plate appearance heading into the Braves series. That’s 169th out of 179 major-hitters; among Mets with at least 20 plate appearances, only Juan Lagares (3.42) is worse. The league average is 3.94.
And those numbers will only tick up — or down, whichever is the wrong direction — after Rosario’s game Tuesday. He saw 13 pitches in four at-bats and swung and missed six of them.
On the plus side are Rosario’s walks. Last season, in his first exposure to major-league pitching when he was only 21, Rosario had three walks (and 49 strikeouts) in 170 plate appearances.
This year, Rosario is already at four walks (to 24 strikeouts) in 91 plate appearances.
“I’ve had days that weren’t good. I have my bad weeks,” Rosario said. “But this is baseball. I will have ups and downs. I’m giving 100 percent on the field to make better.”
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